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The Ensign Column Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 14, 2022 Share


The Minister of Health Andrew Little has suddenly introduced an amendment to his Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill at the very last minute called a "Rural Health Strategy".

This follows his announcement in March 2022 that his "Government is committed to building a new national health system so all New Zealanders can get the health care they need no matter who they are or where they live."

They aim to achieve this through the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill, which comes into effect on 1 July 2022 and replaces the 20 District Health Boards with a crown organisation, Health New Zealand.

However, what was glaringly missing was a focus on rural health in their reform plans for a national health system.

Rural communities and the health care workforce, including midwives, nurses and the aged care sector, have unique challenges.

The shortages in the sector impact the quality of care to communities in our region and the mental health and welfare of our rural health workforce.

Midwives who I’ve spoken to, say they find it hard to continue providing a world-class rural maternity service in rural areas due to their current working environment, and due to a lack of available midwives to service the whole region.

Aged Care is another sector who say they are in crisis. At a recent meeting with the NZ Aged Care Association, they cited underinvestment by the Government, lack of policy or funding mechanisms to increase the supply of care beds to meet increasing demand and complexity of needs, and the turnover of Registered Nurses (RNs) of 48% (an increase of 15% since December 2019), and of caregivers (26%), as some of the top issues they face.

One proposed solution could be a focus on encouraging graduates, experienced RNs and Nursing Practitioner interns to view aged residential care as a desirable career choice.

Overall, there are currently 2,200 FTE nursing vacancies across New Zealand.  These shortages also affect people needing specialist services, like cancer treatment.

Some cancer patients wait excessive times to be seen by a specialist, and the funding for cancer services has not kept up with demand.

Just like the Southland Charity Hospital, the Cancer Society has had to turn to seek donations to enable them to continue caring for patients in their care. 

While the Government has now come to the table by including a 'rural health strategy' in their thinking, any such strategy must provide pathways to grow our rural health workforce and sufficiently fund it to ensure good health outcomes for our local communities.

In the meantime, I have started a fundraising campaign for the Cancer Society to try and raise as much money as I can to highlight their plight. Should I manage to raise more than $1,000, I intend to jump out of a plane to show my support to those living with cancer and create a future with less cancer in our society.

I invite you to join my journey at

Clutha Leader Column Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 14, 2022 Share


The shortages in the maternity and rural health workforce impact not only the quality of maternity care of women and their babies in our region, but the mental health and welfare of our midwives.

In March 2022, the Minister for Health Andrew Little announced that his "Government is committed to building a new national health system so all New Zealanders can get the health care they need no matter who they are or where they live."

They aim to achieve this through the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill, which comes into effect on 1 July 2022 and replaces the 20 District Health Boards with a crown organisation, Health New Zealand.

Rural health has, however, largely been ignored in their reform plans.

I've spoken to midwives who say they face many unique challenges in providing a world-class rural maternity service in rural areas.

The existing midwifery workforce work long hours and need to cover more families spread geographically across the electorate. Some find themselves unable to take annual leave due to no-one to cover their time away.

Extended travel times in challenging conditions road and weather dependent, and at increased costs due to high fuel prices, all add to their challenges.

In addition, midwives say they have limited health service backup for transfers of mothers and limited access to the same diagnostic and other referral services that their urban counterparts have access to.

Combined with the lack of professional development opportunities available, it is no wonder we are losing midwives out of our region.

The problem extends far wider than midwives, too, with 2,200 FTE nursing vacancies across New Zealand, affecting aged care sectors too.

The nursing shortages place an additional burden on midwives, who often have to work longer hours, or on their days off to cover for nursing staff unavailability.

When all these factors are considered together, the maternal workforce crisis can potentially put patient welfare at risk.

The first 1000 days of a baby’s life is critical to their future development and quality of life, as is maternal wellbeing in the first few days after birth. The essential role of midwives in providing pre-and postnatal care to both mum and baby cannot be understated. 

District Health Boards are responsible for ensuring an accessible and equitable maternity service for women, their babies and their families.

The Southern DHB had previously instigated a sustainability package for some rural areas. 

This package proved effective, helped retain the lead maternity carer midwifery workforce, and ensured pregnant and birthing women received appropriate and timely services.

Unfortunately, the withdrawal of many elements of this package has contributed to these workforce issues in the region. 

The Government also needs to explain why $60m of the Maternity Action Plan funding was redirected to health sector reforms when that money is sorely needed by the maternity health workforce, especially those who work in rural health.

Any health workforce development strategy must provide pathways to grow our local midwife workforce and address nurse staff shortages, as an essential enabler to achieving good health outcomes for our rural communities.

I will continue to advocate for our local midwives and rural health workforce in Parliament and make sure their voices are heard when it comes to future debates on the state of rural health in our region.

Parliamentary News from Joseph Mooney MP - June 2022

July 03, 2022 Share

Dear Connie 

School holidays are looming, and the ski fields are open just in time for the many students and their families looking forward to a mini mid-year break, and bringing much needed revenue into our region. 

It's been a busy few weeks out and about from one end of the electorate to the other, supporting local initiatives and causes while advocating for our communities and businesses.

I enjoyed opening the historic A-Class passenger carrier in Lumsden as an information kiosk, the Registered Master Builders Association Carters Lower South Island Apprentice of the Year competition in Queenstown and attending the Southland Primary Schools Cross Country event at Waimumu near Gore. 

Some other memorable visits include the Manapouri Dam and Falls Dam.  During my visit to Falls Dam, Roger Williams, Operations Manager for the Omakau Area Scheme, talked us through the importance of balancing the needs of the dam - from maintaining dam water flow to looking after the Manuherikia River's health while facilitating water for irrigation and factoring in recreational users' needs too.

Petitioning local issues

I continue to advocate for our community by asking questions in the House and writing to Ministers to highlight issues in our electorate.

While not an exhaustive list, some issues in dire need of addressing include worker shortages in the tourism, health, midwifery, and aged care sectors.  

As New Zealand woke up to a new Health NZ entity replacing DHBs on 1 July, medical practices like the Fiordland Health Centre say they still need certainty around the disparities in funding by the Ministry of Health for urban and rural medicine.  

National has launched a petition imploring the Government to immediately add nurses and midwives to the fast-track, start the fast-track process immediately and ensure the process of gaining residence is complete within three months of application. 

You can show your support by signing the petition here

Cycle Trails and DOC concessions

Uncertainty around government regulations continues to frustrate some local community initiatives that could serve both as eco-tourist attractions to the region while meeting the recreational needs of the community.

The Te Anau Cycling club says they have funding to build a new cycle trail in Snowden Park. Still, some of the issues they face include Department of Conservation regulations that currently allow for upgrading trails but not for building new trails.

I have written to the previous Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan, inviting her to attend a public meeting with the community. I'll continue to advocate for this with the new Minister, Poto Williams.

At the same time, Te Anau has had almost no international tourists over the past two years. Businesses there rely on Department of Conservation concessions to operate in the Fiordland National Park.  But there is a lot of uncertainty about the effects on businesses of the Department's Conservation Management and Processes Bill currently under consultation.

Public meeting connectivity

For some rural parts of our electorate, reliable broadband and mobile coverage connectivity is a big issue.

Melissa Lee, List MP and National Spokesperson for Broadcasting & Media, Digital Economy and Communications, will be joining me at a Public Meeting in Roxburgh on 7 July for a discussion on this. We hope you can join and share your experiences with us. Register your attendance here.

Three Waters - Make a submission

Labour has tabled a bill to ram through its Three Waters Agenda.  The Water Services Entities Bill (Three Waters) lays out the final plans for establishing a complex and unaccountable bureaucracy. National has consistently opposed Labour’s water reforms, and if elected in 2023, we will repeal and replace Three Waters.  

Please add your voice to the Three Waters opposition by making a submission here. The closing date is 22 July.

Media and staying in touch with me

In case you missed it, read my recent columns and opinion pieces:

You can also listen to my regular radio interviews with Andy Muir from the Muster, Luke Howden from Hokoniu Breakfast, and Shane Norton, Radio Central.   

Or stay up to date with my activities by following me on social media - FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

I'm planning a series of Facebook Lives every month as one more way you can connect and engage with me.  Watch our first Facebook Live recently, where I hosted Professor Aglietti, Director of the Space Institute.    

I do hope you and your family enjoy the school holidays.  Please stay in touch and reach out if ever you need a hand.

Kind regards,

Joseph Mooney


Parliamentary News from Joseph Mooney MP - April 2022

April 30, 2022 Share

It has been a busy month of activities and public holidays. We celebrated Easter, ANZAC Day and Ramadan in April, and soon we will be celebrating the new public holiday Matariki in June.

Mother's Day is just around the corner and I hope your family has something special planned for the wonder women in your lives!

This year, I attended the Waikaka and Drummond ANZAC services. They were both very special occasions, and hopefully, you too were able to join one of the many commemorations in honour of those who sacrificed their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.

I hosted Leader Christopher Luxon in the electorate where we spent the day talking to local businesses who say they have been doing it tough.

I also hosted Chris Bishop MP at meetings with housing developers where we talked about the increasing costs of housing and rental costs. The Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust is doing great work with its housing developments in the district to support low-income families in housing. 

The cost of living is soaring, and families and businesses feel the pinch of the rising cost of basics in life, like food and fuel.  

In the lead up to Budget Day on 19 May, we are preparing to scrutinise the Government's Budget 2022/23 to ensure that they have delivered what they said they would and to hear about their plans for the upcoming fiscal year with our hard-earned taxes. 

Leader Christopher Luxon has given his pre-budget speech and you can watch it here

I'm planning post budget meetings in Queenstown and Gore in May too. Details of how you can register your attendance can be found on my website.

Three Waters and co-governance

The Government has announced that they will forge ahead with their flawed Three Waters reform programme despite most councils not supporting their centralisation and divisive co-governance agenda.    

New Zealand is a modern, multicultural society built on proud bicultural foundations. The National Party believes in inclusiveness, unity and equality for all New Zealanders – and equality for all citizens under the law.

However, the Labour Government has not been clear on what it means by ‘co-governance’.  National does not support the co-governance of public services.

Past co-governance arrangements that were made in the context of Treaty settlements have worked well. These were bounded to the management of natural resources, like rivers, by iwi working closely with local or central government. This is consistent with National’s strong view that devolution and localism work better than centralisation and bureaucracy.

We should also be celebrating the successes that the Māori economy has already achieved. Statistics reveal that as of 2018, Māori own a significant proportion of assets in the primary sectors - 50% of the fishing quota, 40% of forestry, 30% in lamb production, 30% in sheep and beef production and 10% in dairy production.

Māori-owned kiwifruit orchards also produce 13.9 million trays of gold and green fruit each year or about 10% of New Zealand's total kiwifruit exports. Māori own nearly 1,200 hectares of land devoted to kiwifruit.

2020 research report suggests that while Māori share of land in horticulture is relatively small at 5%, Māori horticulture has grown 300% since 2006. This growth is set to continue and may double in size in as little as 10 years.

In 2018, Māori also owned 5.7% of the land (1.5 million hectares and mainly freehold) of which approximately 400,000ha is farm land, with more than half used for sheep, beef and dairy farming and less than 1 per cent is dedicated to horticulture. 

Farmers facing challenging times

At our two farm Woolshed meetings in Balfour and Waimumu, farmers raised concerns around water, the current drought conditions and the burdensome regulatory reform they are facing all at the same time.

When I met with Thriving Southland and Land and Water Science we talked about the merits of interlinking Government policies for soil, water, biodiversity, and carbon.   

NZ is geologically variable and the Government's blanket policy approach is rather ineffective as a result. With 32 water catchment groups in the region, farmers say the lack of reliable data and information on pathways for economic and environmental sustainability creates real issues for informed decision-making on-farm.

Rural health crisis

Rural health is increasingly under the spotlight. Our health services are stretched, especially rural health, and we need to spare a thought for our GPs and nurses that have seen increased workloads as COVID spreads through our communities. 

While hospitals too, deal with exploding case numbers, elective and other services mustn't suffer. Access to colonoscopy, gynaecological and orthopaedic services, for example, remains an issue for many in our electorate.

The loss of Te Anau's only midwife is the tip of the iceberg of the midwifery crisis being felt across the Southland and Central Otago regions.   Since the closure of the Lumsden Maternity Centre in 2018, the problem has extended wider and poses a great risk to new mums and their babies. I have actively raised these issues with Ministers responsible for Health, Immigration and COVID-19 Response over a prolonged period.

A National government will fund a minimum of a three day stay in post-natal care for mothers and their babies and address pay claims by independent midwives. We understand the challenges of remote and rural communities.

On the flip side, while the Government dithers with government-funded cancer services, the Southland Charity Hospital building nearing completion is exciting news!

I'm in regular contact with Missy Vining and her team for updates on their cause on behalf of the community. Its success highlights the importance of addressing the issue of the lack of Government funding for cancer patients.

Mental health

Mental health and well-being too, especially for our youth, are big issues in our communities. I'm aware of a survey circulating in Te Anau looking into the mental health of rural young men, and the issue is widespread.

Considering the Government's $1.9 billion spend in this area, it is only fitting that the Auditor-General has announced that he will be investigating the "effectiveness of mental health and addiction services for young people as a group with an increasing need for mental health support".

Postal services found lacking in Queenstown

Due to outdated legislative instruments, some areas in Queenstown are not receiving postal services either. Residents of Hanley's Farm have contacted me with concerns about New Zealand Post's failure to deliver mail in their area.

They say negotiations with the state-owned enterprise New Zealand Post have reached a stalemate.  Ministers responsible for NZ Post must front and confirm what they intend to do to ensure NZ Post maintains their minimum service obligations for the delivery of postal services in Hanley's Farm as per the postal deed.  Read my press release on this issue here.

Finally, I've written to several Ministers this month, asking questions and seeking answers to the problems our communities face. I'll be feeding back their responses in the coming weeks.

You can stay up to date with my activities by signing up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.  

My team and I are here to assist you in any way we can. You can reach us here. 

Kind regards,

Joseph Mooney





Loss of Te Anau's only midwife tip of iceberg in Southland and Central Otago midwifery crisis

April 23, 2022 Share

The loss of Te Anau's only midwife is the tip of the iceberg of the midwifery crisis being felt across the Southland and Central Otago regions.

An increasing number of midwives are leaving the profession due to feeling undervalued, overworked, and having ongoing questions around funding structures. Maternity staff shortage is an ongoing issue that I have actively raised with Ministers responsible for Health, Immigration and COVID-19 Response over a prolonged period.

In June 2021, I wrote to the Minister for Health, Andrew Little, requesting him to take urgent action to improve access to maternity services for women and their babies in Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes, Northern Southland, and Fiordland areas.

My concerns relate to the significant shortage of midwives in the region, the wellbeing of those employed in the health workforce, and the significant risks the combined factors pose to the safety of mothers and their babies.

When the Lumsden Maternity Centre closed in 2018, the Government said they would ensure expectant mothers would still have access to good primary and secondary health care services.

Their solution since has been to fly mothers needing critical care to hospitals in other cities just to find that some hospitals, at times, did not have enough medical staff or hospital beds to accept the incoming patients.

If flying isn’t a viable option, mothers and babies face long trips via ambulance.

Anyone who lives in Southland will be able to testify to the region's at times treacherous road infrastructure in winter and especially if combined with extreme weather challenges.

In my letter to the Minister, I used the example of an expectant mother who, unable to be admitted to Dunedin and Invercargill, was referred to Timaru Hospital. In an already potentially fatal situation, Timaru could not be accessed by helicopter due to weather, which meant a four-hour trip by ambulance.

I also raised issues about the wellbeing of our midwives and maternity nurses. Health care worker shortages have contributed to their problems due to intensifying workloads and unsustainable work hours.

The lack of evidence-based immigration policy has contributed to the crisis we face. According to answers to Parliamentary written questions by Ministers, midwifery is not currently considered a long-term skill shortage.

In the Minister's response to me in December 2021, he acknowledged that New Zealand is experiencing a shortage of midwives.

He said 'the Government recognised the importance of midwives and have made it a top priority to bolster the midwife workforce’.

He quoted Budgets 2020 and 2021 provisions that allocated $242m over four years for maternity services. The $35m Maternity Action Plan and 2021 Notice would ‘compensate midwives working in the more remote parts of New Zealand’.

Associate Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Ayesha Verrall also responded by outlining $5m in funding for clinical coaches at District Health Boards to improve midwives' working conditions.

In a press release on 14 July 2021, the Associate Minister declared, "To support them, clinical coaches will stand shoulder to shoulder with midwives on the maternity wards, caring for pregnant and birthing women's health and medical needs."

However, answers to Parliamentary questions to colleague Hon Louise Upston, Opposition Spokesperson for Social Development and Employment, suggest that the Minister could not tell how many midwives were supported to date by clinical coaches and how much of the money had already been spent.

She said that the Ministry of Health did not 'currently hold the data' nor would it be available for some 18 months.

In the meantime, while the South Canterbury District Health Board (SDHB) has echoed my concerns around midwife shortages, the DHB continues to offer fewer primary and secondary maternity services and facilities per head of population than many other district health board catchments.

SDHB has been given funding to support rural midwives, and I intend to get answers about where and how that money was spent.

With the Government steaming ahead with its centralised health restructuring efforts and using money from the maternity action plan funding that could instead be used to improve midwifery conditions, it comes at the expense of mothers and their babies in our Southland and Central Otago regions.

This Government has failed to recognise midwives' vital role in supporting mothers and their babies.

Our women and their babies deserve the same access to maternity services as other Kiwi women, and all children across the country deserve the best possible start in life.

A National government will fund a minimum of a three day stay in post-natal care for mothers and their babies and address pay claims by independent midwives. We understand the challenges of remote and rural communities. We have a track record of supporting birthing units where the evidence is clear.

In the meantime, it's time for the Ministers to act now, not wait 18 months for data that will tell them that mothers and their babies in our regions need care now.

Notes to editor:
- Copies of Joseph Mooney letters to the Ministers and their responses
- Links to Parliamentary Written Questions and their responses:

  • Midwifery clinical coaching fund -
  • Notice 21 fund rural categories -


Ministers must front on Queenstown postal service delivery failures

April 12, 2022 Share

The Government's postal deed of understanding with New Zealand Post has not kept up to date with residential growth in areas of Queenstown, resulting in residents not receiving the mail delivery service they are entitled to, says National's MP for Southland, Joseph Mooney.

"Residents of Hanley's Farm have contacted me with concerns about New Zealand Post's failure to deliver mail in their area. They say negotiations with the state-owned enterprise New Zealand Post have reached a stalemate.

"It is not good enough to say that people aren't writing enough letters to justify service delivery, and we need the Government to tell us what they intend to do about it," Mr Mooney says.

"Hanley's Point is a residential area with over 2,000 houses, so it's unclear how New Zealand Post can justify a decision not to deliver mail there."

Mr Mooney says the organisation has not engaged in good faith about the ongoing issue.

"When I first looked into this issue in 2021, it was my understanding that service delivery decisions were based on accessibility for New Zealand Post vehicles to the area, amongst others.

“Other 'viable options' were being explored to ensure the residents in those areas received an acceptable level of service. One of the temporary solutions was PO Boxes in Wakatipu Box Lobby and Queenstown Box Lobby being made available to residents, a far drive for some.

"Nothing has been done since and this is not good enough," says Mr Mooney.

"It is part of a trend we are seeing under this Labour Government with government departments failing communities with inadequate and outdated service delivery plans.

“As households in affected areas are currently being surveyed with the results due later this month, I intend to meet with the community to discuss the results and next steps.

"I have asked the Ministers in charge of State-Owned Enterprises and their operations, David Clarke and Megan Woods, to confirm what they intend to do to ensure New Zealand Post maintains its minimum service obligations for the delivery of postal services to Hanley's Farm as per the postal deed of understanding with the Government.

“This deed guarantees a commitment by New Zealand Post to add new delivery points upon request, subject to due diligence work being carried out,” he says.

"I would also like to know what the outcome was of the planned review of the deed in March 2021 and whether there was any public consultation about it."



Government ignoring democratic process in Three Waters steamroll

October 27, 2021 Share

The Government’s decision to push through legislation so it can steamroll ahead with its Three Waters Reforms shows a complete disregard for the voices of New Zealanders and due democratic process, MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says.

“It is extraordinary to see the Labour Government push through legislation to allow the establishment of four entities which will strip councils of their ownership and control of local water assets.”

“This is an asset grab and a clear case of the Government again doing whatever it wants regardless of how strongly New Zealanders object to their overwhelming desire for centralisation.”

Read more

Mooney has first Member's Bill drawn

September 24, 2021 Share

A bill to strengthen the protection of Māori land and stem fragmentation has today been drawn from the ballot, MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says.

“There are more than 27,000 blocks of Māori land under the present Te Ture Whenua Māori Act comprising of 1.4 million hectares, about 5 per cent of the total land mass of New Zealand.

“Large tracts of Māori land are under-performing for owners, largely due to constraints stemming from the current legislation. Fragmentation is getting worse, not better, and there are still thousands of owners who remain disconnected from their land.

“This law change seeks to improve the performance and productivity of Māori land, which will provide millions of dollars for the economic and cultural benefit of owners.

“The right of Māori land owners to retain, control, occupy and develop their whenua themselves as a taonga tuku iho for the benefit of present and future generation will be protected.

“The legislation is based on the fundamental principles that Māori land endures as taonga tuku iho by virtue of whakapapa, that tikanga Māori is central to matters involving Māori land, and that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is central to the application of laws affecting Māori land.

“Owners will finally be able to set rules making it harder to dispose of Māori land and will be able to design their own governance arrangements. The law will recognise the mana of decision making sits with the owners, not with the court.

“It’s time Māori are trusted to know what’s best for themselves.”


Watch the drawing of Mooney's member's bill here:

Lakes Weekly Bulletin Column - September

September 14, 2021 Share

Check out my latest column in both the Lakes Weekly Bulletin - published September 13.


Outstanding is the only way to describe the Queenstown community’s reaction to New Zealand’s recent Delta outbreak.

After an incredibly trying 18 months, our town was again asked to make huge sacrifices for the safety of not only our own region, but the whole of New Zealand.
In typical Queenstown style, our residents rallied together to do what was needed.

Read more

Government must support Central Otago and Te Anau businesses

September 10, 2021 Share

MP for Southland Joseph Mooney says the Government must act urgently to support struggling Queenstown businesses as well as those across Central Otago and in Te Anau.

“COVID has had a devastating effect on the Queenstown economy, which has been pushed to another extreme by the recent shutdown of businesses during Alert Levels 3 and 4.”

“The results of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce’s recent survey should send a clear message to the Government – Queenstown businesses need support now.”

“For 90% of businesses to report they’ve lost turnover of up to $100,000 per week during Level 4 and for 25% to report they do not expect they will recover from the effects of the recent lockdown shows how dire the situation is here.”

“It should also provide the Government with all of the prompting it needs to take urgent action.”

Mooney says the Government cannot keep ignoring the pleas of the business communities of Central Otago and Te Anau.

“Businesses in Central Otago and Te Anau have been in a fight for their survival for 18 months, the Government simply cannot ignore them any longer.”

Mooney says the Government’s response to the impacts of COVID19 on Central Otago and Fiordland’s economies so far have failed to acknowledge the extraordinary circumstances their towns have faced during the pandemic.

“The contributions of small and medium sized businesses have underpinned the incredible contribution of these regions to New Zealand’s visitor numbers and the New Zealand economy.”

“For decades these regions have made incredible contributions to New Zealand’s economy and international reputation.”

“The safety of our nation had to come first and regions like Queenstown and Te Anau took what I would describe as the biggest hits of any in New Zealand.”

“It’s time to properly support those who have sacrificed their livelihoods for this country.”

“The bottom line is small to medium businesses cannot keep paying for fixed costs while shut down or operating well below capacity, like they are in Level 2-D.”

“The Government’s offers of support fail to recognise the impact that sustaining those fixed costs are having on these businesses.”

“It’s time the Government recognised what a unique position areas like Central Otago and Te Anau are in.”

Mooney says a meaningful support package for businesses across Central Otago and Te Anau must be offered as soon as possible.